Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Fahrenheit 451 (1966), directed by Fran├žois Truffaut.

The film is much different in content from Ray Bradbury's book and entirely different in tone. So much so that I don't see the point in comparing them. Each must stand on its own merits.

I wouldn't have imagined the book being done Truffaut's way, but as the film is, it is a bizarre ... well, I can't say "masterpiece". It's too quirky for that. What do you call a uniquely personal experiment that shouldn't have been tried [teen dating?] but, now that we have it, is watchable and even moving?

It's as if he took several angles on the story and shuffled them together:

Oscar Werner has a little-boy-lost appeal that fits in with the images of a society where people are alone in public, touching themselves and their own clothes rather than each other. The flame thrower gear looks like clerical vestments and the burning is a sort of religious rite. He sins when he reads a stolen book. After a period of despair, he becomes an active apostate and eventually joins a new faith.

I read that Paul Newman, Peter O'Toole and Montgomery Clift were considered for the role and Terence Stamp was actually cast for it. I wonder what sort of film it would have been with them, especially with the latter two.

Julie Christie plays two roles. From a review at the time:


...strongly supports the widely held suspicion that she cannot actually act. Though she plays two women of diametrically divergent dispositions, they seem in her portrayal to differ only in their hairdos.

I suppose standards change but that is just nonsense. I don't see how anyone can watch the movie and make those claims. The characters are nothing like each other and are played entirely differently.

Bold color design, especially in the reds. The fire engines knock you down. Nicolas Roeg was the Director of Photography. Truffaut was Hitchcock's #1 fan and he borrows some of his techniques: the track-and-zoom, the delirious dream sequence. I'm sure that's why Bernard Herrmann does the music. Exciting score, particularly during the driving and burning scenes.

We might maintain a list of films for bibliophiles starting with:

No text, not even opening credits, appear in the film until about the 40 minute mark. By that time the page of David Copperfield comes as a shock.